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Homiletical Plot, Expanded Edition: The Sermon as Narrative Art Form (Expanded) [Paperback]

Eugene L. Lowry
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Dec 2000 Sermon as Narrative Art Form

Now in reissue with a new foreword by Fred B. Craddock and afterword by the author, Eugene L. Lowry, The Homiletical Plot, Expanded Edition follows in the same solid tradition of its predecessor. Upon its release, The Homiletical Plot quickly became a pivotal work on the art of preaching. Instead of comments on a biblical passage, Lowry suggested that the sermon follow a narrative form that moves from beginning to end, as with the plot of a story. This expanded edition continues to be an excellent teaching resource and learning tool for all preachers from introductory students to seasoned clergy.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 162 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; Expanded edition edition (1 Dec 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664222641
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664222642
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 12.7 x 0.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 519,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Eugene L. Lowry is William K. McElvaney Professor of Preaching Emeritus at Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Reading a textbook on how to prepare sermons often is like looking up a word in a dictionary in order to find out how to spell it-you have to have the answer before you can probe the question! Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Preachers are meant to be story-tellers 26 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Lowry challenges the usual preaching style (tell them what you're going to say, say it, then tell them what you've said). He says no good storyteller gives away the climax of a story like that. Rather, sermons should be stories with: plot, tension, climax, etc. The book was easy to read, and his advice for sermon preparation has been very instructive. Experientially, the times I have used this approach, I have gotten many favorable comments on the sermons.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Add some storytelling to your sermon 21 Dec 2004
Format:Paperback
This is an excellent book for those involved in preaching and teaching the word of God. After reading this book, one important fact stayed with me. That is "pay attention to detail." When relating a story or parable, Lowry emphazises that every detail must be included. Like a movie director, those of us involved in preaching are encouraged not to give away the"plot" but to keep the congregation in "suspense."
I recommend this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Prescription for Narrative Preaching 26 Dec 2007
By Richard M. Seel VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Eugene Lowry is Professor of Homiletics at He is also a preacher and a jazz pianist - the latter two being not unconnected. He has written a number of books on narrative preaching, of which this is the best known.

The Homiletical Plot suggests that preachers should structure their sermons according to the basic structure which underpins many stories. After all, Jesus told stories far more often than he gave three-point sermons!

According to Lowry's scheme the basic narrative plot has five parts:

1) Oops!--upsetting the equilibrium;
2) Ugh!--analysing the discrepancy;
3) Aha!--disclosing the clue to resolution;
4) Whee!--experiencing the gospel;
5) Yeah!--anticipating the consequences.

Lowry explains these in the chapters which form the heart of the book. It's good but I only gave four stars because it's a bit too theoretical for my taste. I would have liked some examples of sermons which used the format; these would have helped bring the ideas to life.

I have never constructed a sermon in the way that Lowry outlines; nevertheless, I do sometimes use his schema to check the structure of my own sermons and I find that they often follow his structure. In such cases the book can be useful for refining what I've already done.

Overall a good book; any preacher will benefit from reading it.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  30 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Preachers are meant to be story-tellers 26 Aug 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Lowry challenges the usual preaching style (tell them what you're going to say, say it, then tell them what you've said). He says no good storyteller gives away the climax of a story like that. Rather, sermons should be stories with: plot, tension, climax, etc. The book was easy to read, and his advice for sermon preparation has been very instructive. Experientially, the times I have used this approach, I have gotten many favorable comments on the sermons.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for the Serious Preacher 4 Jan 2003
By Arthur Joseph - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is for anyone who is serious about preaching; even if you have been preaching for a while! For the new preacher, Lowry explains how to make your sermons interesting, Biblical, relevent, specific and memorable! For the seasoned preacher he illuminates several ideas that you may already be aware of subconciously by using in depth analysis of the five parts of "the sermon as preached" and by giving excelent examples and analogies. Even if you do not adopt his specific format this book enables you to make your style more effective and crisper. This book should be in every preacher's library!
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent & concise 'how-to' book on narrative preaching. 7 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Lowry's book is the best I have read on narrative preaching. He is easy to read and his suggested homiletical plot is remarkably simple and yeteasy to apply to all kinds of texts, regardless of their genre. A narrative sermon - as Lowry has made clear - does not have to be preached from a narrative passage of Scripture. Another excellent point he makes (which needs to be heard by today's preachers) is that the sermon ought NOT be constructed like an essay, which is pieced together one point upon another. No, a sermon is an event which HAPPENS. Therefore the congregation needs to hear and experience the sermon in such a way that it transforms their thinking because they have had an experience which leads them to greater faith in Christ. In teaching homiletics courses in the future, I will certainly make use of this book as a required text!
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Preaching Sermons where You Don't Resolve the Tension Until the End 14 Feb 2007
By Dr. Marc Axelrod - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Eugene Lowry says that each sermon ought to begin with the human predicament, then it should be diagnosed, then the sermonic idea should come as it intersects with the gospel answer. Lowry believes that the sermon will best hold the attention of the hearer if you proceed inductively and do not resolve the tension until the Weee!!! and the Yeah!!!! stages.

He compares the sermon to a Columbo episode where you know who dunnit, but you are wondering how in the world Columbo is going to figure it out. In the same way, we know that the gospel is the answer to man's problems, but we don't know exactly how and in what way it is the answer to a particular problem.

He also discusses how the movie High Noon holds the viewer in tension until the end, and he wants preachers to follow suit. Giving away your proposition at the start of a sermon is like giving away the punchline of a joke before you tell the joke!

Lowry takes us through the five stages of the Homiletical plot and makes a compelling case why we ought to make our sermons compelling. He is realistic, he knows that preachers cannot weave a thriller every Sunday, but he does give us the way in which we can plot out the sermon in a way which will it will intersect with the lives of our listeners.

I agree that this is a valuable way to preach, and looking back on my old sermons, I have been inductive and have begun with the issues in people's lives about 95% of the time.

Yet it should also be stated that there are times and places and passages where the deductive method can be effective. Perhaps you can begin with the sermonic idea and then make it your goal to explain how this idea can be applied to our lives. I can certainly see parts of James and 1 John being preached deductively.

But this is a very helpful primer on preaching as a narrative art form. Recommended.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It changed my preaching 30 Mar 2007
By Yoyo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The propositional, three point sermon. That's what I learned in seminary. I was good at it, but I soon got bored. I started checking into other forms. Thus I read the Robinsons' "It's All In How You Tell It", which explains first person preaching. My Biblical characters visiting our church were great successes.

Then I found this little gem and I was able to develop into narrative preaching. I have no plans to go back to the three point sermon. As soon as the narrative starts, people hear and pay attention. My last endeavor was so succesful, people approached me afterwards thanking me for the form and the content that touched and moved them (they even applaud, don't ask me why though).

If I have one complaint, it's this. As a total neophyte, with no idea what narrative preaching looked like, I would have liked to see a few samples in the book. The Robinsons included about seven sample sermons in theirs, so I was expecting the same. But then again, this book is much older.

Still a great book that I credit for putting me on a completely new path. I thoroughly enjoy preparing and preaching these sermons (much more than the traditional ones) and people respond more eagerly to them too.
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